Researchers from Switzerland say they find no increase risk of bone fractures among kids who take inhaled steroids to control their asthma.
National asthma guidelines recommend inhaled steroids as the first line of defense for children with persistent forms of the disease. But doctors have long worried these drugs might be weakening the bones of youngsters who take them. The fear stems from research showing a link between oral forms of the drugs and osteoporosis in adults. Other studies have suggested a similar link between bone problems and the inhaled forms, but the evidence has not been conclusive.
In the current research, investigators conducted a large population-based study of kids age 5 to 17, matching about 3,740 asthma patients with nearly 21,760 kids without asthma. A comparison of fractures between the two groups showed similar rates of broken bones for asthmatics on the inhaled drugs and kids without asthma. The finding held true even for children who had been on the drugs for a long period. A small increased risk of fracture was seen, however, for long-time users of inhaled steroids who had also taken or were taking an oral form of the medication.
Researchers conclude saying that their study on the treatment with inhaled steroids does not seem to materially affect the risk of bone fractures in children or adolescents.